Saturday night, the UFC returns to Fight Island for a match of undefeated fighters. Israel Adesanya will defend his middleweight title for the second time as Paulo Costa looks to become the new division champion. Here's when the stacked slate of fights from Abu Dhabi take place.
UFC 253 has three separate tiers of fights. The early prelims start at 7 p.m. ET on UFC Fight Pass, the prelims continue at 8 p.m. ET on ESPN2 and ESPN+ and the main card starts at 10 p.m. ET. UFC 253 is a pay-per-view event exclusive to the ESPN+ streaming app. Current subscribers will have to pay $64.99 to access UFC 249. New subscribers can purchase a year of the streaming platform and the pay-per-view for $84.98
Heading into the highly-anticipated bout on Yas Island, there are questions about if Adesanya will continue his undefeated streak in the UFC. He is 19-0 in his career and 9-0 in the octagon. All eight of his UFC victories have come since February 2018, including his championship win against Robert Whittaker and his title defense against Yoel Romero. According to CBS Sports, Adesanya has slight odds to secure the win and continue his reign atop the division.
Costa, on the other hand, is 13-0 in his career. He has ended 11 of his 13 fights by knockout and will search for another decisive victory on Saturday night. If he can achieve this goal, Costa will become the new middleweight champion and will hold the belt above his head on Fight Island.
In addition to the middleweight title fight between Adesanya and Costa, another championship is on the line. Dominick Reyes and Jan Blachowicz will battle for the light heavyweight title. Jon Jones vacated his title recently while simultaneously expressing interest in a move up to heavyweight. Now a new UFC fighter will hold the championship belt.
The main card will draw the most attention on Saturday night, but one of the prelims will feature a legend in MMA. Diego Sanchez, a competitor on the very first season of The Ultimate Fighter, will face off with Jake Matthews in a welterweight bout. Sanchez is nearing the end of his career and is making his first walk to the octagon since defeating Michael Pereira in February via an illegal knee disqualification.